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Baltimore Crime Beat
Police and court news
St. Michaels man gets probation, must pay restitution in rockfish poaching scheme

A St. Michaels fisherman received probation Friday for helping illegally harvest tens of thousands of pounds of striped bass from the Chesapeake Bay, but must pay $40,000 in fines and restitution for what the sentencing judge called an "egregious" offense.

U.S. District Court Judge Richard D. Bennett told Lawrence Daniel Murphy he seriously considered jailing him, but went along with the prosecution's recommendation for probation because of Murphy's relatively minor role in a fish poaching conspiracy involving three other Eastern Shore watermen.

However, Bennett said he wanted to hit Murphy in the wallet to send a message to other watermen that illegal fishing is a "very, very serious matter." Striped bass, also known as rockfish, are Maryland's state fish.

Murphy, 37, worked as a helper aboard the Kristin Marie from 2007 to 2012 with Tilghman Island watermen Michael D.  Hayden Jr. and William J. Lednum. They were caught in February 2011 trying to retrieve more than 20,000 pounds of...

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Man found shot in Carrollton Ridge vacant home

Baltimore Police said a man was in critical condition Friday morning after being found shot inside of a vacant home in the Carrollton Ridge neighborhood in west Baltimore.

Officers were called to the 600 block of S. Payson St. at about 6:40 a.m. for a report of a shooting, and found a man inside of a vacant home there. He had been shot in the stomach and leg and was taken to an undisclosed hospital.

Police said detectives from the Southern District were investigating the shooting, and anyone with information was asked to call 410-396-2499.

jfenton@baltsun.com

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Woman, 32, charged with kidnapping 11-year-old son

A 32-year-old woman Thursday was arrested and charged with kidnapping her 11-year-old son from a West Baltimore home this week, police said.

Davita Walker, who did not have legal custody of the child, took him from a home in the 2100 block of Penrose Ave. on Wednesday, police said.

Walker, who police said has no known home address, faces abduction charges that could carry up to 20 years in prison and fines if she is convicted, according to her arrest report.

The case was not yet posted to Maryland's online state database, so it was unclear whether Walker had an attorney. A public defender who had represented her previously could not be immediately reached for comment late Thursday.

cmcampbell@baltsun.com

twitter.com/cmcampbell6

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Balto. Co. police investigate 'suspicious' Aug. incident at UMBC

Baltimore County police are investigating a "suspicious incident" at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County that reportedly happened in August, but neither school nor law-enforcement officials revealed details of the matter.

In a statement released Thursday, UMBC officials said when they learned of the incident Tuesday, they "began looking into the matter and notified Baltimore County Police.

"Baltimore County Police received a report from the complainant on December 17, which they are investigating as a suspicious incident," the school statement said.

Cpl. John Wachter, a county police spokesman, said police are investigating the incident but offered no additional details.

Lisa Akchin, an assistant to the president at UMBC, said the university believes there is no ongoing threat to campus safety and so the incident would not be subject to the federal Clery Act's requirements that certain crimes be disclosed immediately.

"We are unable to provide the nature of the allegation...

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Prosecutors introduce sex video, Internet searches in Phylicia Barnes trial

Internet history on the phone of the man accused of killing Phylicia Barnes showed Web searches for forensic procedures and for books on high-profile killings such as the Casey Anthony and JonBenet Ramsey cases, a Baltimore police detective told jurors Thursday.

Jurors also were shown stills from a video that investigators say they found on Michael Maurice Johnson's phone. Detective Ray Bennett said the images showed Johnson having sex and giving money to an unknown woman police described as a prostitute.

Johnson, 30, is on trial for the second time in the killing of Barnes, 16. The evidence introduced by prosecutors Thursday was not introduced in Johnson's first trial last year, underscoring the different approach prosecutors are now taking.

Johnson's last defense team, Russell Neverdon and Ivan Bates, said prosecutors didn't even attempt to introduce the information at the first trial, which Bates said would have been "extremely prejudicial" to the jury.

"The evidence should be what...

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Defendant in years-old Dundalk murder case scheduled for Jan. trial

A Pasadena man who is scheduled to stand trial next month in the death of his girlfriend nearly 15 years ago will now face additional charges at the same time.

Stephen Michael Cooke Jr., 43, is also accused of trying to get someone to hurt a man who he thought would testify against him.

Baltimore County Circuit Judge Kathleen Cox granted prosecutors' motion Thursday to combine the charges of murder and conspiracy to commit witness intimidation into a single trial, which is scheduled to start Jan. 20.

Cooke is accused of hiring two Colorado men to kill his girlfriend, Heidi Bernadzikowski. Bernadzikowski, 24, was found dead in their Dundalk home in April 2000.

County prosecutors allege that while Cooke was in jail this year on charges related to Bernadzikowski's death, he tried to solicit another inmate to hurt Grant A. Lewis, one of the Colorado men.

At a court hearing Thursday, prosecutors revealed details about what they said was Cooke's plot to harm Lewis.

Prosecutor Garret Glennon said...

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